Turns out one of the most memorable performers at the 2013 Island Roots Heritage Festival wasn’t even in the program. On the first day of the festival, Mother Nature made several unannounced – and unwelcome – appearances.
As an opening act, she whipped up a thundering downpour, trapping people indoors and delaying the festival opening by an hour or more.
Then, apparently not satisfied with the havoc she’d wreaked earlier, she resurfaced around dinner time. The eastern sky grew dark and heavy, and the winds picked up. A waterspout began swirling off the east shore of the cay.
Festival goers took cover in nearby buildings as the funnel barreled toward shore and made landfall as a tornado at the north end of Gillam Bay.
Residents along the bay scrambled for shelter under stairwells and in shower stalls as their homes were pummeled. Though several houses and at least one vehicle sustained serious damage, no major injuries were reported and fortunately, the tornado dissipated before it reached the settlement.
As a precaution, the festival grounds closed early that night, but reopened Saturday morning to clear, sunny weather. And Mother Nature, evidently satisfied with her performance, kept to herself the rest of the weekend.
Special thanks to Timothy Roberts, Linda Waller and Mandy Bennett Roberts for the use of their photos and video.